SECOND CHANCES – Excerpt from Chapter 4

The following is an excerpt from my manuscript, part of the re-write that I have been trying to work on.  I got it written, but on reading it back, wondered if there is too much anger and nastiness for inspirational fiction.  I decided to share this portion with the hope that you would give me some honest feedback on whether it needs to be changed.  There are excerpts from the Prologue here and from Chapter One here.  If you haven’t already read it, the Chapter One excerpt will give you an idea about the anger and nastiness in this excerpt.

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A short while later, she stood in the middle of the room, eyeing the new arrangement.  She turned in a circle, smiled and nodded at the cozy seating areas that she had made with a few strategic moves of chairs and tables.

The sound of the kitchen door opening had her turning in time to see Paul stop in the doorway.  She studied the curled lip and the derision that read clearly in his eyes.

“That didn’t take you long.”

“What’d you want me to do?  Set up a shrine in the corner where your recliner was?”

Shannon winced as soon as the words left her mouth.  No use in being snarky.

Red rushed up his neck at her question but he chose to ignore it and said instead, “You’re losing floor space, you know.”

She looked at him and shook her head.  That had been his reason for wanting all the furniture shoved back against the walls.  She ran her eyes over the room, really liking the new arrangement.  When she glanced back at him, she raised a brow in question; ignoring his attempt to make her feel stupid and inept.

“Did the room get smaller?  I guess I must have missed that.”  When he didn’t respond, both brows rose nearly to her hairline.  “Did you want something specific, or are you just here to be miserable?”

“I didn’t get the tools in the basement.”

Shannon waved a hand toward the basement door.

“Well, have at it.”  She watched him turn around and said, “And thanks for the reminder.  I’ll get to the hardware store later and change the locks on the doors.”

That got a reaction.

“You can’t lock me out.  This is still legally my house too.”

“You’ve moved out, why would you need to come in here?  If there is nothing left here of your’s, there’s no reason for you to come back here.”

“You can’t lock me out.”

“You already said that, but you still haven’t said why you’d need to be here.”

She watched the wheels turning and almost smiled at his thought process.  “To see Randy.”

“Randy is very rarely home.  If you want to see him, invite him to supper.”

The red returned to his face, then quickly changed to purple.

“You try to keep me out, I’ll sue.”

That made her laugh.

“Seriously? You’ll sue?”  She shook her head.  “And how do you think that’ll make Randy feel about you?  You’ve already done enough damage to his feelings for you, don’t make it worse.”

“Don’t do anything to turn him against me.”

“I haven’t done anything.  You’ve done a good enough job all on your own.”

He took a step toward her, face a mottled purple.

Shannon refused to back down, raised her chin.

“Take another step, and it’ll be you on the wrong side of the law.  And with Joe as a witness to your last threatening move, you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.”

At her words, he stopped, curling his lip in contempt.

“So, you’re still robbing the cradle, huh?”

“I would have thought, considering Kelly’s age, you would not be the one to bring that up.”

He couldn’t quite cover his surprise at her statement, but it was quickly replaced by more contempt.

“Getting so cozy with Joe that you’re trading personal information?”

“Get your thoughts out of the gutter, Paul.  He told me how old she was the night of our confrontation.  So don’t try to shove your lack of moral standards onto me.  Contrary to the lies you and Kelly are spreading about me, I am not the one that has committed adultery.”

His head reared back and he opened his mouth to deny any involvement; then closed it again, looking like a fish out of water.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes, you do.  But a word of caution … Randy has heard the lies, and has asked me about them.  If he finds out it was you behind them, he will probably never forgive you.”

“You’d tell him?”

And there was the admission.

She looked at him, filled with so much dislike and anger, she wanted to throttle him.  She swallowed hard and told herself it would serve no purpose to let fly at him.

“Paul, use some sense.  I hadn’t heard about the lies until he asked me about them.  If someone is going to be mean enough to repeat them to him, do you really think they would hesitate to tell him it was you and Kelly that started them in the first place?”

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© Drusilla Mott and, 2012



Shannon pulled her mind from the memory and turned back to the coffee pot.  It had just finished brewing when Paul walked in and dropped two envelopes on the counter.  She picked one up, opening it to see tickets for the state fair. She set it back down and picked up the other, feeling her heart drop to her toes as she read the words on the ticket.  Frowning, she glanced up at him, reading the aggressive stance and belligerent expression.

“What are these for?  I thought you didn’t want to see these guys.  Why did you buy all these if we aren’t going?”

Shannon looked at Paul as he stood glaring at her, and realized he was a complete stranger.  He was not the man she had married, certainly was not a man she wanted to love anymore.  She knew he had killed the love she felt a long time ago, and searched through her heart for any feelings at all other than disgust and bitterness.  There were none, and that fact scared her.  How have we come to this?  The question twisted her heart with anguish, making her fingers shake as she gripped the concert tickets.

“We didn’t talk about this show.“

Shannon looked at him, eyes narrowed. “Yes, we did.  We discussed this more than once, and Randy and I both said we wanted to go.  You said you didn’t.”  The anger was building, making her voice sound tight and severely controlled.  “Why did you buy these after you told us you didn’t want to go?”

“I must have forgotten that you said you wanted to go.  I’m going with some of the girls from work.”

Shannon could only stand and stare at him for a minute.

“You did not forget.  You deliberately lied to us, keeping us from seeing what we wanted, just so that you could go with the girls you work with.”

The rage that was swirling through her made her shake with its intensity.  She pressed her fingertips to her stinging eyes and, walking away from him, sank onto the couch.  Where had she gone wrong?

“Shannon, I’m sorry.”

She turned and looked at the man she had been married to for almost twenty years.  As she studied the face that had once meant the world to her, the futility of it all washed over her, making her infinitely sad.

“That’s always your answer for everything, isn’t it?  For the past twenty years you’ve gone and done anything and everything you’ve wanted, not caring who got hurt.  As long as you wanted to do it, you didn’t care whether it was right, or wrong, or anything else.”

She looked at him in bewilderment, still unable to figure out why he thought the way he did.  “And I always let it go, hoping each time that it would be different, but it never was.  You just kept on plowing over anyone you thought was going to keep you from doing just what you wanted, including me … especially me.  And when your lies didn’t work, you fell back on the I’m-sorry-speech, figuring that I was too blind and too stupid and would forgive you anything.”  She sighed.  “And then you wonder why I can’t trust you anymore, and why I don’t like you anymore.”

Needing to get away, Shannon stood and walked around him.  As she reached the door, his voice stopped her.

“I said I was sorry.”

Shannon turned to look at him, struggling with the urge to cry.

“Well sorry just don’t cut it anymore.”

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The weeks that followed were some of the worst Shannon had ever had to live through.  If she thought Paul had been difficult before, it was nothing to his current nastiness.  Thankfully, he had taken to spending less and less time at home.  She wondered where he was at times, but was way past caring where he went or whom he was with.

It’s easier when he’s not here, she thought, wincing slightly.

A nagging headache tugged at her thoughts, making her wish she could lie down for a while before leaving for work.  Going into the laundry room, she sorted out the clothes and turned on the washer.  As she was loading the dirty clothes into the machine, she realized that Paul had not put his softball uniform in the hamper and would need it cleaned before his next game.

She went out and got his sports bag from his truck and carried it into the house.  Setting it on the table, she unzipped it and pulled out the dirty uniform.  As she always did, she stuffed her fingers into the pockets to empty them and came up with a piece of paper.  The scent on it was not sweat and dirt, but perfume.  And not her own.  With shaking fingers, she unfolded it and studied the flowing handwriting.

The truth had been slapping her in the face for months now, her instincts had been screaming at her, keeping her in a constant state of turmoil with the knowledge that he was actually cheating on her.  And now she had physical proof of his infidelity.

She ran her eyes over the monogrammed ‘K’ at the top of the page, and then skimmed down the handwritten message.  With each word, Shannon felt the earth shift beneath her feet.  She had been sure that Paul was having an affair, knew he was lying even as the denials left his mouth.  But, other than seeing Kelly drive by their house, there had never been anything to actually prove it.  Until now.  Raising her eyes to the top of the perfumed sheet again, she reread the love letter once more:

“My Darling Paul, I just wanted to tell you again how much the other day meant to me.”

Shannon’s eyes burned as she absorbed the details of their time together.  Her heart fell to her toes as she looked at the blatant invitation for another meeting, the written missive that spoke of everything she had been afraid of.  “…Until then – your ever loving Kelly.” 

Her eyes stopped at the end of the letter, as she sank into a chair and stared blankly at the cabinets on the opposite wall.  She didn’t know why she was shocked, she had known all along.  But to find this kind of proof after all this time seemed to have pulled the world out from under her.